When I was fresh on the writing scene, one of the first people I met in the League of Utah Writers was Jodi L. Milner. Jodi immediately impressed me with her enthusiasm and love for writing. While Jodi and I are no longer in the same writing chapter, we still see each other often at writing conferences and author events. She recently released a YA dark fantasy Stonebearer’s Betrayal, so this was the perfect opportunity to get together with Jodi and find out more about her writing process and her book.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Perfectionism. Ever since I was young, I’ve held this absurd belief that there is a “perfect” way to do things. Not just right, perfect. While this doesn’t seem like a big deal, there are huge ramifications. If I wanted to try something new, I would spend an ungodly amount of time researching all about it. If I wasn’t convinced I could do it perfectly, I wouldn’t try. 

I spent seven years learning the hard way that there is no perfect way to write a book. There are skills that make writing better and lists of things to avoid that make it worse. Each author brings their own style that makes the writing distinctly theirs. None of these things can be measured by how perfect they are. Writing, finishing, and publishing a book taught me that I can do things and they don’t have to be perfect to be awesome. 

Who is your favorite character in this book and why?

In Stonebearer’s Betrayal, there is a secret society of immortals who can use magical powers. Part of the story revolves around this society working to put down a massive threat to their existence. My favorite character is the clever and loyal Bremin, companion to the fearless High Lady, leader of the Stonebearers. The reason I like him so much is although he has the power inside of him, he can’t use it without passing out and forgetting what happened. This forces him to solve problems using his skills of observation and persuasion. He’s also a snarky devil with my favorite kind of wit.

What was your hardest scene to write?

Two scenes stand out. For the first, there is a significant character death I agonized over for weeks before I had the courage to write it. Even then, every day I worked on it left me emotionally exhausted. It was something that needed to happen, but the pressure to do it well and create a powerful scene meant I spent hours and hours trying to capture the emotional toll of the one who survived in a meaningful way. 

The other scene was hard for a totally different reason – it’s a kissing scene. I’d never written one before and no matter how much I told myself that it wasn’t a big deal, I couldn’t help but feel awkward trying to figure out how to capture this intimate warm moment. Fun fact – the kissing scene was the last scene I wrote before the story was finalized to be printed. 

There’s a lot of world building in Stonebearer’s Betrayal. Where did you get your inspiration for as you created the world in this story?

Growing up, I spent every free minute with my nose in a book. While I read everything, fantasy books captured my imagination the best. The stories I loved most tended to be set in pre-industrial worlds that relied on horses and the strength of people to get things done. Soaring fortresses, ruins, and palaces were all part of the experience. When crafting my world, I drew upon all those ideas and combined them into something new. 

Are you working on anything at the present that you’d like to share with your readers about?

Yes! Currently I have two large projects I’m working on. First, I’m feverishly writing out the first draft of book three of the Stonebearer series, so I know how the story ends before I go back to polish book two. The second project is brand new and super adorable. Friend and fellow Immortal Works Press author Daniel Swenson and I are cowriting a middle grade book about a redheaded boy who is afraid about being eaten by a dragon – because redheads are delicious. 

Jodi L. Milner

Growing up, Jodi L. Milner wanted to be a superhero and a doctor. When she discovered she couldn’t fly, she did what any reasonable introvert would do and escaped into the wonderful hero-filled world of fiction and the occasional medical journal. She’s lived there ever since.

These days, when she’s not folding the children or feeding the laundry, she creates her own noble heroes on the page. Her speculative short stories explore the fabric of dreams and have appeared in anthologies and magazines, while her novels weave magic into what it means to be human.

She still dreams of flying.

Coming up:

Don’t Miss Out!

If you’re a writer or you’d like to be one, don’t miss out on the League of Utah Writers Spring Conference this April 27th, 2019 at SLCC campus in Taylorsville, Utah. Can’t make it the Spring Conference? There’s always the Quills Conference in August, or you can find a local chapter near you to begin your writing journey or continue honing your writing skills.